They are being closely watched by scouts from teams in credible junior leagues on both sides of the Canada-United States hockey border.
On any given night, be it at home or on the road, representatives from teams in the Ontario Hockey League, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, North American Hockey League or North American 3 Hockey League are there, taking notes and collecting data.
Soo Indians have played 46 games thus far this season as an independent hockey team playing against top major midget competition from Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.
Well-coached by former NOJHL bench boss Pat Carricato, the Indians have more than held their own to date with a record of 24-19-3.
The Indians can further improve that mark over six remaining games — all at home — before they head to Lansing for the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association’s state championships at the end of February.
This is an Indians team with some exceptional talent of young players, many of whom were born in 1997 and 1998.
Let’s take a quick look at three 1997 birth year skaters with the Indians who various scouts and recruiters have been watching while taking notes.
Small but fearless with a nasty streak, the pint-sized Pucci tops the Indians scoring chart with 19 goals, 28 assists, 47 points despite having missed 6 of the team’s 46 games.
A 12th-round pick of the Erie Otters at the 2013 OHL draft, the 5-foot-8, 150 pound pivot has been nicknamed “Little Pucker” — a moniker that gives some indication of the prickly edge that Pucci shows on the ice.
As of this writing, Lussier is just a point shy of Pucci with 19 goals, 27 assists, 46 points in 46 games.
At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, the lanky Lussier has size that will require additional strength as he moves forward.
The 5-foot-10, 180 pound Barbeau is a hardrock defender who is also the Indians captain.
Barbeau has 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points in 40 games and has earned a reputation as a tough customer who protects his territory with the disposition of a junkyard dog.
Indians coach Carricato, who has forged a respectable repute as an excellent developer of talent, firmly believes that Pucci, Lussier and Barbeau are all ready to advance somewhere within the junior hockey circle in 2014-2015.
Taking it a step further, Carricato feels that all three have future Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association potential, an observation that is shared by the prominent likes of general manager Kevin Cain of the NOJHL’s Soo Thunderbirds as well as coach-general manager Bruno Bragagnolo, chief scout Tom Farnquist and regional scout Doug Bailey of the NAHL’s Soo Eagles.
SAVED BY SAUVE
As a 1995 birth year, Indians goalie Jared Sauve is in his final season of midget hockey.
And Sauve, who is from the Detroit area, has superbly solidified the Indians goaltending since arriving in the Soo after the 2013-2014 season had already started.
Not only has the 5-foot-10, 155 pound Sauve put up good numbers with a 10-5-1 record, 1.99 goals against average and .911 save percentage, he has served as a mentor to the Indians younger goalie, Brandon Gordon.
The 5-foot-10, 160 pound Gordon, who is a 1997 birth year, has a record of 11-11-2 to go with a 2.15 goals against average and .901 save percentage.
In addition to Carricato, the Indians staff is well-seasoned with individuals well-known in the Sault Ste. Marie hockey community.
Under the direction of general manager Mike Kaunisto, the Indians hockey department also includes assistant coach-assistant GM Jerry Harwood, director of player personnel Rick Corbiere and goalie coach Mike Maulucci.
PHOTO: Speedster Frankie Pucci in action with the Soo Indians during a major midget game this season. (Photo by Mark Krupiraz.)